Is Ticket-Pricing Plan Reason to Hope Stars Lose?

Stars expand notion of premium pricing for tickets

The Dallas Stars are pegging some of their ticket prices to the whims of the marketplace.

The team said Wednesday it will be the first NHL franchise to offer a flexible pricing plan that goes beyond the notion of charging more for games against better opponents. As with airfares, buying tickets early can help, and it will matter where the teams are in the standings.

The price charts won't be spinning like the big boards on Wall Street, but they'll be changing during the season in an industry known for setting prices long before the first game and leaving them alone. If the Stars are Stanley Cup contenders, fans will have to contend with a bull market.

"We're really looking at much more matching the value of the game to the price of the ticket than we are just a carnival game," said Barry Kahn, chief executive of Qcue, the Austin-based software company that is implementing the plan for the Stars.

The plan applies to upper-level seats. Kahn said the Stars would approve all suggested price changes and that fee structures wouldn't increase. He said updated prices would be available in all sales formats.

"We could set a computer to change prices every 15 minutes, but there's a manual piece to this ... that is kind of a limiting factor," Kahn said.

Single-game tickets go on sale Saturday. At launch, the most expensive upper-level seats will range from $36 to $60. The cheapest will be $14 to $15. The team is releasing price structures only for games in October and November.

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The Stars and baseball's San Francisco Giants are the two major pro sports teams to sign contracts with Qcue, according to Kahn. He said the company was in negotiations with other teams.

Kahn said one of the motivations behind the concept is encouraging fans to get tickets early. Although he said the prices are fairly stable in the cheapest seats, savings can reach 30 percent to 40 percent for the best seats in the upper decks.

The system probably wouldn't change prices significantly if a bunch of tickets remained days before a game, Kahn said. In that scenario, he said the team would be more likely to slash prices on its own to try to fill seats.

The past two seasons would be interesting case studies for the Stars under the new pricing system.

Two years ago, they surprised many with a run to the Western Conference finals before losing to Detroit. Last season, a team beset by injuries fell short of high expectations by missing the playoffs, a rarity in Dallas.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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